And what a way for the Criterion Collection to start the new year off with six brand new releases. No upgrades this month and the films are all instant purchases for myself. The biggest release is obviously the first addition of the Coen brothers to the collection with their brilliant film about failure and creativity, Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). The film stars a career turning performance from Oscar Isaac as he plays a 60s folk singer trying to survive in Greenwich Village. This film is so good in the way the Coen’s make it good, meaning we do not get the happy ending and we dive into the world of an eccentric and one striving for success but never gaining it. Inside Llewyn Davis will be released on Blu-ray and DVD editions on January 19th, and I hope this means we will be getting more Coen films in the collection. Time to get rid of that other Blu-ray.
The other two big releases in my book are first, Wim Wenders’s The American Friend (1977). A loose adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s “Ripley’s Game,” and a film that contains outstanding performances from Bruno Ganz and Dennis Hopper. This is classic Wenders and a film, if you have not seen it, you should check out immediately if you only know of Wenders through his masterpieces Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire. The American Friend will be released on Blu-ray and DVD editions on January 12th and what beautiful cover art for this release. The other big release is Charles Vidor’s Gilda (1946), a silky, sensual film noir starring the gorgeous Rita Hayworth. I had recently seen the this film for the first time a couple of months and it really won me over. I love 40s films, especially noirish ones, and this is up there as one of the best. Gilda will be release on Blu-ray and DVD editions on January 19th.
Then we have Bitter Rice and The Complete Lady Snowblood. Bitter Rice (1949), which has been hinted at for over two years, is a supposedly pulpy, neorealist Italian film that was a big success for director Giuseppe De Santis and producer Dino De Laurentis. I know very little on this film, but it sounds great and involves field workers and a heist of the crops, Bitter Rice looks to be something special from 40s Italian cinema. Bitter Rice will be releases on Blu-ray and DVD editions on January 12th. Then we have a twofer from Toshiya Fujita — The Lady Snowblood (1973) and Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance (1974) — packaged in a complete set. This looks fantastic and appears to be the real Kill Bill films, or, the ones that influenced Quentin Tarantino on his revenge films. I cannot wait to compare the two and see how much Tarantino ripped off this time, although I do enjoy the Kill Bill films and after seeing the trailer for Lady Snowblood, I am very intrigued. The Complete Lady Snowblood will be released on Blu-ray and DVD editions on January 5th.
This looks to be a great month of releases and it is kind of nice to see a month where we only receive new additions into the collection. I still am waiting for the upgrade to Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows and Akira Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well, but they will show up in due time. Enjoy!
Photos by Criterion Collection.